Tuesday, June 30, 2009

So Wrong that it's Right

Today I experimented with painting directly from *gasp* my imagination, without using any visual references.  Scary!  Sky diving without a parachute kind of scary.  Only, as it turns out, you can't actually die from painting without reference material.  It was uncomfortable at first, but in the end I came up with this princess: 
I'm currently in the middle of an all-consuming experimentation binge.  I think that's one reason my blog posts have been so sparse lately.  I'm working with so many new techniques, pushing so hard and so far outside of my comfort zone, that I've turned into a great big slacker when it's time to articulate the day's discoveries.  In any case, this princess is my first attempt at developing a lighter, more whimsical style.  Another tool for the toolbox.  I kept changing the color of her dress, and things got a bit muddy, but she turned out pretty close to what I had in mind.    
Today's most significant discovery was this:  sometimes less is....less.  When I began painting this study, I had a very clear image in my mind of the face and the expression that I wanted to create, and I had an easy time rendering it the way that I wanted.  The hair seemed to emerge naturally as well.  But when I got to the dress I began to struggle.  The skirt looked wrong.  I thought I'd exaggerated the proportion too much, and I tried moving back toward realism by making the skirt smaller.  But that looked worse.  So I tried making it absurdly full and poufy.  And lo' making it more wrong made it look right.  I'm really looking forward to exploring the space around the figure.  I suspect that this wrong=right principle will come into play there as well.  

Monday, June 29, 2009

Today I worked on this pencil drawing for my illustration portfolio:You know when you're working on something and you can't tell if it's interesting/good or totally crappy?  Well.  That's how I'm feeling today.  And thus I am feeling exceptionally cranky.   Exceptionally cranky. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I finished my book jacket.  Here's a better (though far from perfect) picture.  For those of you just tuning in, I'm a fine artist trying to branch out into book illustration.  In the process of building my illustration portfolio, I've somehow (please don't laugh) kind of started writing a book.  It's really just bits and pieces of a story, but I needed something to illustrate, and so here I am.  Here's a detail:
Today I started playing around with ideas for black and white illustrations that would go inside the book.  I originally thought I was going to create them using my pen and ink and scratchboard technique, but that seemed too stark for the mood of my story.  So I played around in my sketchbook with brush, pen and ink:
I liked it, but it still didn't feel quite right.  I wanted something more ephemeral, so I tried some pencil:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Mushroom Invader

A stowaway spore in my succulent's soil!

Monday, June 15, 2009


It's here!  Two of my paintings are on the front and back covers of the latest issue of Salamander, a national literary magazine published out of Suffolk University.  I've only read two of the short stories in this issue so far, but man are they good.  I even gasped with emotion at the end of Siobhan Fallon's Waiting.  

I'm continuing to enhance my illustration portfolio.  This is a book jacket cover that I'm making for a story I made up.  I've actually only made up parts of it, but they're the most exciting bits.  

I was really liking this painting until I mucked up the background on Friday and killed some of the magic.  So I ended up restarting the piece.  My goal is to adapt my fine art style to illustration work, while maintaining the uniqueness of that style and working efficiently.  The stuff that I was doing to the background ran counter to all of that.  But the process helped me to pinpoint and better articulate those goals.  So I've restarted in a way that I think will work better.  In the meantime, here's a close-up of the mucked up version:

Friday, June 5, 2009

Today I made this tiny little one-hour painting.  Sometimes when I'm working really hard toward a specific goal I can feel my sense of play and whimsy start to slip away.  Making funny little doodles like this help me regain it.
And so do presents!  Today I also received this wonderful gift from Cat and Allan:
She looks far more outraged in the actual photograph than she does in this photograph of the photograph.  This fact is yet another example as to why I really need to invest in a scanner. 

What a coincidence!  Here's another I-should-get-a-scanner example:   
It's my finished bird rack buck.   I spent all last week playing around with this pen, ink and scratchboard technique.  I also received some more great feedback from another art director in children's publishing.  One of her criticisms was basically that my portfolio lacked very specific-seeming characters in specific narrative moments.  She was right, so I started making up parts of stories, writing them down and illustrating them.  It's a really different way of working for me, since I'm always aiming for multiple meanings and ambiguity in my fine art work.  Here are some more experimental pen, ink and scratchboard drawings that I made last week: 
The passage that I wrote for the bird rack buck drawing has sort of taken on a life of its own in my mind.  I keep adding parts to the story and coming up with new characters.  So this weekend I hired my friend's twelve year old daughter to pose for a whole series of images based on this book in my mind.  Not only did she give me the exact poses and expressions I was envisioning, but she also had a lot of really good questions about back story and character development.  Because it appears that this story wants to write itself, whether I have time for it or not.  Sigh...